UC Students Win Science Film Festival

3 UC students participated in NSF film festival, creating science videos for educating children.

Date: March 9, 2011

By: Kelley Ujvary

Nick Hanlon and Ken Maxwell have been named the grand prize winners of the "Science in a Minute" video contest.

The team’s video entitled "Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation," simply explains the concept of gravity between the earth and the moon, breaks down the scientific equation for gravity, and explains gravitational force…  All in just 90 seconds!

The contest presented by American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)-National Science Foundation (NSF), invited young researchers to present science topics in a fun and educational video format in 90 seconds or less that would be aimed at students in grades K-12.

Videos were judged on three parameters including scientific merit, artistic merit, and the creative combination of the science and art.   Their video received the greatest number of popular votes from the audience at the recent AAAS Public Science Days Film Festival.

Hanlon is a graduate student in the School of Aerospace Systems out of CEAS, and a NSF GK-12 UC STEP Fellow.  Maxwell is a senior studying Electronic Art in DAAP.  He is also is a Technology Specialist for the NSF-GK12 Project STEP grant where he is in charge of doing websites, videos, photo, and design for the grant.  Given their shared passion for technology, Nick and Ken are a natural team.

“Our grant coordinator, Andrea Burrows, informed the UC NSF GK-12 fellows of the competition.  Ken and I working on the project was the perfect union of our abilities to be competitive in all aspects of the competition.  I developed the science concept and a rough draft storyboard.  I presented the storyboard to Ken, we discussed our desired intentions with the message, and Ken did a fantastic job of creating the video by turning an idea on paper into reality,” Hanlon says. 

Hanlon and Maxwell both agreed that the biggest hurdle for them was condensing the material to fit within the time frame of 60-90 seconds, while still maintaining the core message.

Four finalists were selected from all over the United States, two of them were from UC and the other two from University of Alaska Fairbanks and Boise State. 

 The other UC finalist was PhD student Chelsea Sabo.  Sabo’s video explained artificial intelligence and it’s functionality through robots.   

The grand prize team was awarded a new iPad computer.  Hanlon and Maxwell have not decided who gets to keep it, but “are considering shared parenting” the students joke. 

Teachers in the Cincinnati area have been so impressed with the video that they have decided to use the film in class to introduce Newton’s Law.